publication . Article . 2006

Piero Gobetti's Agonistic Liberalism

Martin, James;
Open Access
  • Published: 01 Jun 2006 Journal: History of European Ideas, volume 32, pages 205-222 (issn: 0191-6599, eissn: 1873-541X, Copyright policy)
  • Publisher: Informa UK Limited
  • Country: United Kingdom
This article examines the ‘revolutionary liberal’ outlook expounded by the young Italian journalist\ud and intellectual, Piero Gobetti, immediately following the First World War. It considers the\ud historical evolution of his ‘agonistic’ liberalism according to which conflict rather than consensus\ud serves as the basis of social and political renewal. The article traces the formation of Gobetti’s\ud thought from his idealist response to the crisis of the liberal state through to his endorsement of the\ud communist revolutionaries in Turin and his denunciation of fascism as the continuation of Italy’s\ud failed tradition of compromise. Whilst Gobetti’s views pr...
free text keywords: Philosophy, Sociology and Political Science, History, Agonism, Politics, Social science, Communism, Elitism, Political philosophy, Sociology, Denunciation, Civil religion, Liberalism

1 John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and other writings, ed. Stefan Collini (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 34-5.

2 Examples of contemporary political philosophers drawing upon agonistic principles include: John Gray, Two Faces of Liberalism (Cambridge: Polity, 2000); Chantal Mouffe, The Democratic Paradox (London: Verso, 2000), and The Return of the Political (London: Verso, 1993); Jacques Rancière, Disagreement: politics and philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999).

3 John Gray, Enlightenment's Wake: politics and culture at the close of the modern age (London: Routledge, 1995), 68.

4 See the excellent introduction by Nadia Urbinati to the English translation of selections from Gobetti's writings: "Introduction: Liberalism as a Theory of Conflict," in On Liberal Revolution, ed. Nadia Urbinati (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2000).

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publication . Article . 2006

Piero Gobetti's Agonistic Liberalism

Martin, James;